Using more than 1,000 square meters of solar panels installed on the roof and facades of office and production buildings at its manufacturing plant in Wiesbaden, Germany, Dow Corning GmbH expects to generate the amount of energy needed to satisfy the annual electricity needs of 35 households.
The solar panel modules were supplied by Photowatt International SAS, a manufacturer of solar silicon ingots, wafers, cell and modules in Europe. They contain Dow Corning materials developed for use in photovoltaic (solar) cells and modules.
Dow Corning partnered with ESWE, a local utility company that manages an Innovation and Climate Protection fund to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The energy generated by the Dow Corning solar panels is fed back into the local electricity grid. In return, the company benefits from subsidies to buy electricity for its own energy needs. The company says it will re- invest 30% of these subsidies every year in sustainable energy projects aiming at reducing the site's total energy consumption.
Klaus Hoffmann, Dow Corning European Area President said that several Dow Corning sites across Europe and the rest of the world are already participating in similar projects to increase energy efficiencies and reduce its environmental impact.
In May 2007, Dow Corning announced a $1 billion investment in manufacturing polycrystalline silicon, which is a critical material to enable the broad availability of solar energy. Hemlock Semiconductor Corp., in which Dow Corning owns a majority stake, manufactures 30% of the world's total supply of polycrystalline silicon.